British : Era of Revolts

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East India Company | French | Plassey | Anglo-French | Dupleix | Bengal | Buxar | Warren Hastings | South | Permanent Settlement | Tipu | 18th Century | Anarchy | Anglo-Maratha | Revolts | Sanyasi Vidroh | Others Revolts
Too much persecution leads to revolt, and that is what happened with British India. Many say that the only real uprising that British India had to face was that of 1857 but it is not true. Much before the famous uprising of 1857, there were few other uprisings which have failed to catch the attention of the modern world. The basic reason being that these uprisings had regional constraints which did not allow it to grow beyond the limits of few hundred kilometers. The famous among this is the Great Sanyasi Vidroh. Literally it means the 'Revolution led by the Monks'.

Never in Indian history had it happened before that a great armed uprising had taken place led directly by Hindu ascetics. It was a direct repercussion of the years of subjugation which mainly Hindu dominated peasantries of Bengal had to face. First in the hands of the Mughals and then in the hands of the British. The puppet regime of Mir Qasim had given all sorts of freedom to the British merchants. Now these merchants in the name of law plundered farmers who had already became subdued to Zamindars. When the British governments control over East India company grew after the Regulating Act of 1773 and Pitts India Act of 1784, these merchants were replaced by Government Officers.

In Bengal and Bihar the revenue were collected by hereditary Zamindars. The word Zamindar means land owner, which covers the meaning of ownership, tax collector or a some kind of mixture between the two. The Zamindars of Bengal were simply the agents of the government. What they paid was subject to annual squabble with the Government Officers, as a result of which these Zamindars were often maltreated and beaten up, and sometimes they were disposed off from their posts.

What the villages could actually pay were the Zamindars secret; the difference between what they could squeeze from the village and what the Government could squeeze from them was their living. Thus the settlement of land tax were annual, the measurements on which the assessments were made was based on the great survey done by Akbar. In addition to this the Zamindars had police and magisterial powers in their hand. Below the Zamindars came the cultivating peasants. They were exposed to the rods of the Zamindars as Zamindars were exposed to the rods of the government officers.

The company's demand together with its servants derangement of the local economy lead to over-collection of land-revenues. Which became one of the cause for the great famine of 1769-70 in Bengal. Bengal sank from a state of fabled prosperity to rural misery.

The seeds had been laid, the hungry peasants, the insulted Zamindar and the Sanyasi (Hindu Ascetics). The lead was taken by the Sanyasi, money was provided by the Zamindar and men were the hungry Peasants. The guerilla mode of warfare was adopted.

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